Why I Decided to Test for SIBO

I’ve been actively trying to manage IBS for about 4 years but I think that I’ve had it for a lot longer than that, but it’s just that I used to think my symptoms were normal. It took a while before a doctor told me that I had IBS and suggested the low FODMAP diet. Since then I’ve been managing my symptoms with a modified low FODMAP diet, whole foods, stress management and exercise.

My symptoms have been manageable for most of the time since figuring out my triggers but IBS has still been there, lurking beneath the surface, just waiting for a time (usually an inconvenient one) to make itself known “Hi, I’m here, it’s me IBS, your faithful friend, please don’t forget about me!”

The reason

The thing is I’m a little tired of IBS, I’m tired of having to watch what I eat and what I do. I’m tired of trying to prevent a flare up and I’m tired of trying to deal with a flare up when it does happen. I don’t think I really want to be friends with IBS anymore. So I decided to investigate my symptoms further.

I had heard about SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) over the years, I’d read articles like Emily’s here on this site and I thought that maybe it could be me, but nahh, I don’t think so, I just have regular IBS. So I never really thought about taking the test or discussing it with one of my health professionals.

Until one day I was listening to a podcast and they were discussing SIBO, the symptoms and treatment, and it dawned on me that there was a test I could take within the next few weeks and if I did test positive there was a possibility that my symptoms could be resolved with treatment. So I decided to take the test!

The test

I live in Australia and I was able to order a lactulose breath test online. I had to consume a special diet the day before the test (just chicken, fish, rice, eggs, water and clear broth), then I had to fast for 12 hours overnight before the test. The next morning I had to drink a sample of lactulose and then over three hours I had to give 10 breath samples to complete the test. The idea is that if you have an overgrowth of bacteria in your small intestine they will feed off the sugar and produce different levels of methane or hydrogen depending on where the overgrowth is in the small intestine, which is then captured in the sample tubes. I posted the samples back to the testing facility and within a week I got the results. Positive for SIBO!

The treatment

SIBO can be treated with targeted antibiotics or herbal antimicrobials and usually requires a special SIBO diet during and after treatment. The idea is to reduce or remove the overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine which will then reduce or relieve me of my symptoms. I decided to go down the herbal path and found a natural health practitioner in my area. I also started on the SIBO Bi-phasic Diet prior to beginning treatment and I immediately saw a difference in my symptoms! It’s a combination of the low FODMAP diet and a low carbohydrate diet with portion control. I thought that I had been managing my symptoms pretty well but now I actually feel a lot better! My bloating was significantly reduced, my bowel movements were more regular and my abdominal pain was gone.

I’ve now been on the herbal treatment for a few weeks and I’ve experienced a few side effects of diarrhea and abdominal pain. This apparently often occurs due to the bacteria dying off but because I’m still sticking to the diet, the treatment side effects are lessening, and I’m feeling pretty good!

I’m really happy that I decided to take the test and I’m really looking forward to seeing how this treatment goes! I’ll be sharing more about it soon. Have you had any experience with testing or treatment for SIBO, I’d love to know all about it?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The IrritableBowelSyndrome.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


View Comments (8)
  • DorisE
    8 months ago

    July 2018 and I am taking the test tomorrow at home…I have had only three boiled eggs today! Diarrhea is very bad today but cannot take an anti diarrhea pill. Tomorrow I have to take a tube of Teva-Lactulose, plum flavour, and thanks for your explanation above…however this tube also says “Laxative” … not looking forward to that. I have been suffering for years and am desperate but sounds like you are still having problems even on a special diet? I know no one else who has had this test, and it costs about two hundred dollars…although I would pay a hundred times that amount not to have daily diarrhea. Dr. Has never done any stool test etc. So am going to a Naturopath. How are you now?

  • DorisE
    7 months ago

    …unfortunately did not take the test. I did the diet, fasted, but as couldnt take anti diarrhea pill for 48 hours before testing, had the runs
    ten times evening before and at 3am… had to have shower and could not sleep… felt so bad and weak in morning decided not to take the laxative at 1Oam and next three hours breathing into bag. I was so disappointed. But at 74 and othe4 illnesses it was too much. Am going to try it again next week and eat more on the diet the day before..I onky haD eaten three boiled eggs and half cup chicken day before as did not know what ‘meats’ I could eat and didnt have any Jasmin rice they suggested.Wish me luck!

  • Hannah Noonan moderator author
    7 months ago

    Hi @dorise, I’m sorry to hear that you were unable to take the test. It sounds like you’ve been having a really challenging time! I hope things are better next week when you try again. I was treated for SIBO over a year ago and overall I feel about 90% better, I still get reactions sometimes from food and stress but nothing like it used to be! I hope you find some answers soon. Fingers crossed for you! – Hannah (IrritableBowelSyndrome.net Team)

  • Jamie
    9 months ago

    It took about 6 yrs of suffering before the doctors diagnosed IBS C. And really even now I am still suffering and I find it interesting that medicine has come so far in some areas and not others.
    For me it’s simple; the standard foods bother me! I have a rare disease of the Esophagus which also gets in the way of eating. So in order to get certain foods to go down I can’t always eat the right foods which end up bothering the IBS. Medicines have helped tremendously I am not sure what I would have done without. I was averaging a trip to the ER at least once a week before they have me the same thing the ER was giving me. This IBS is a terrible disorder because eating and food is such a part of bonding with others.
    Doctors sometimes get bothered easily I have noticed with IBS. It’s almost like they hate it as much as I we do.

  • Hannah Noonan moderator author
    9 months ago

    Hi @jamie it sounds like you’ve through a lot and it must be challenging trying to find the right foods to eat for both conditions! I agree, I think IBS is so challenging as it revolves around what we eat which is such an important part of bonding with family and friends. Thanks for taking the time to comment! – Hannah (IrritableBowelSyndrome.net Team)

  • LinBrew
    10 months ago

    My daughter-in-law has SIBO. She manages it. She has not had any success with “treatment” and follows a very strict, restrictive diet to do as well as she can. I am so happy to hear you are doing better. (I personally have self-diagnosed IBS. My daughter has Crohn’s. It’s insane how many of us have GI illnesses.)

  • DorisE
    8 months ago

    …sorry I had not seen the comments before adding mine. Sounds discouraging….seems like I may revert to IMM…….DIUM?

  • Hannah Noonan moderator author
    9 months ago

    Hi @linbrew, thank you for your kind words. I really hope your daughter-in-law is having some success now with her treatment – Hannah (IrritableBowelSyndrome.net Team)

  • Poll